The World We Made

I have mentioned Ruelle before. She is making a name for herself providing songs to TV shows and Movies that don’t quite have the budget for a big production score, custom-written and recorded. (Though that is cheaper than it used to be, given that you can use things like the Croatian National Orchestra for the recording.)

This song is “The World We Made” by Ruelle. I first ran across it in the soundtrack to Netflix movie, The Old Guard.

If you haven’t seen The Old Guard, what are you waiting for? No, it isn’t great cinema. No, they didn’t have the budget you would see in a Marvel summer blockbuster. It is still a fun ride for graphic-novel-based movie. Good Guys and Bad Guys, and middle of the road guys. Good action all the way through the film, and good actors.

Constantine

Constantine is another movie that you probably haven’t seen.

This movie didn’t impress the critics, for whatever reason. (Too much reliance on Catholic iconography?) It also pissed off the fans of the Hellblazer comics/graphic novels, because it wasn’t very close to the original material. Why? Suits always know best, even when it is clear that they don’t.

It also suffers from wooden acting by Keanu Reeves, but I don’t mind it so much in this case, because John Constantine, at least as he appears in the movie, is not supposed to be likable.

So. John Constantine is an exorcist who stumbles into a plan by son of Satan to unleash the apocalypse for his own gain. I thought it was well done, given the constraints of making a Hollywood movie. Mostly dealing with suits in the movie industry, who don’t understand comics, or much of anything really, and creative decisions made by committee. Still, I like this movie enough to own a DVD copy, and I do pull that out every once in a while.

The supporting cast is great. It includes Rachel Weisz as the detective investigating a situation, and Shia LaBeouf as Constantine’s apprentice. It isn’t the best performance of LaBeouf’s career, but he might just be the shining light in this cast. Oh, and Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, in yet another gender-bending role for Swinton.

This isn’t great cinema. It isn’t even great horror. Great Horror would be John Carpenter’s Vampires. Well, that would be a great Vampire movie.

Most of the scenes available on YouTube are spoilers. If Constantine has a problem it is with pacing, but it tells an interesting story. The trailer doesn’t give much away, but I’m not sure it does justice to the movie. Still it does give you a flavor of what is going on. Anyway, Constantine. You might enjoy it. I have no idea if it is streaming anywhere like Amazon Prime, but I wouldn’t be surprised…

Update: If you do see the film, don’t miss the extra scene at the end of the credits.

The Old Guard

So there’s been a lot of buzz about the new Netflix movie staring Charlize Theron as Andromache of Scythia. “You can call me Andy.” Since I don’t have Netflix, I am dependent on the indulgence of friends who do. Anyway, I did get to see it over the weekend, and I can say, it lives up to the hype. And KiKi Layne, who plays Nile Freeman, a US Marine, is quite good. Like so many movies today, it is based on a series of graphic novels. I will have to see if I can track them down.

This is trailer for The Old Guard from Netflix.

I checked IMDB for the ratings, and it seems that women rate this movie higher than men. I guess since Ms. Theron and Ms. Layne are the 2 principle characters, and there is a lot of girl-power, that makes sense.

And one thing that surprised me is the part played by Harry Melling, probably best known as playing the character Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter movies. He has lost quite a bit a weight from the way I remember him. I didn’t recognize him; one of the people I watched the movie with did. (I also thought he was taller…)

John Saxon: August 5, 1935 – July 25, 2020

Another loss yesterday. John Saxon Dies, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Enter the Dragon Star and Cult Icon Was 83.

Cult Icon because be was in a failed pilot for a Gene Roddenberry series. But then he was in any number of bad 1970s movies.

Peter Green’s passing was the one I heard of yesterday.

Everyone is mentioning Saxon’s work in A Nightmare on Elm Street, which I guess is fitting. And at least some people are mentioning Enter the Dragon. That second entry may also be contributing to the “cult icon” status, at least among people who like 1970s Kung Fu films.

I mostly remember him from all of his “guest appearances” on TV shows. He appeared on everything from the David Carradine series Kung Fu, (Saxon was in a classic episode of that) to the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman, to The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman to Gunsmoke.

I tried to find a suitable clip, but so much TV and the even movies from that era were just awful. And I’m sure you’ve seen clips, or can find them easily enough.

Connections by James Burke

I’ve mentioned Connections before, though not for a couple of years. James Burke’s 1978 documentary on the history of science and technology. It was one of the best things I saw on Public Television of that era, one of the BBC imports. It is still pretty good today.

Episode #1 from the 1978 series, “The Trigger Effect,” which details the world’s present dependence on complex technological networks through a detailed narrative of New York City and the power blackout of 1965. Agricultural technology is traced to its origins in ancient Egypt and the invention of the plow.

Anyway, at some point the episodes were uploaded to YouTube. Here is a link to the first episode, “The Trigger Effect,” in case the embedded version below doesn’t work. 1978 video technology isn’t great on our big screens today, but it works fine on a smaller scale.

While some of the The Day The Universe Changed, also by James Burke, is on YouTube, it doesn’t seem to have been completely uploaded. So I leave you with my old links to that show. The Day The Universe Changed. And because all of the Connections episodes don’t seem to be up on YT either, here’s a link to those shows.

30 Years of the Movie Ghost

A lot of strange things come thru my news feeds, but then I’m interested in a wide variety of things. It is both hard to believe that this movie, Ghost, is 30 years old, and at the same time, not so hard. It seems like it came out in a different era. It was released on Friday the 13th in July, 1990. I’m jumping the gun since this seems more like a weekend kind of thing. Maybe someone needs a suggestion for movie night.

It has been more than 10 years since Patrick Swayze passed away, at the age of 57. I always remember him as being young, but then none of us are as young as we used to be. Rick Aviles, who played the killer, died at the age of 42 in 1995.

I’m guessing that most people, except for the children, have seen this movie. While I haven’t seen it in while, it has held up. I can recommend it.

You can find the trailer easy enough. Here is a bit of the Subway Ghost scene, featuring Vincent Schiavelli. It has been 15 years since he passed away, also at the age of 57.

Movies You May Have Seen – Scent of a Woman

Usually I write about movies I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen. This movie is different. This is the movie that enabled Al Pacino to win his only Oscar for Best Actor. He had been nominated a whole bunch of times, from The Godfather, and Serpico to Dick Tracy of all things. But I don’t think this was a consolation, this was a superb movie. And a very young Chris O’Donnell wasn’t bad either.

And while this isn’t an obscure film, I’m not sure, since it came out in 1993, how many have seen it. Probably you haven’t seen it in a VERY long time. (Unless it’s been streaming on Netflix, or on continuous repeat on HBO or something.) It is worth your time, even if you’ve seen it before.

Here’s the trailer, which actually does a fair job of giving some hint of the movie. After the break, there is the Col. Slade/Al Pacino speech from the end of the movie. It is a major spoiler, and it is 17 minutes or so.

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Movies You Haven’t Seen – Dogma

Dogma directed by Kevin Smith. The last time I checked, it wasn’t available for streaming anywhere, and there is a video on YouTube by Smith explaining why that is. Doesn’t matter. If you can find a DVD copy, you might enjoy it.

But almost as enjoyable as the movie, is some of the video Kevin Smith made around the movie. After the break there’s a video of Kevin Smith recounting the time he went to protest the opening. Of his own movie.

Dogma pissed off (some) Catholics in kind of a big way, even though none of them had seen it. So there was a protest planned for the opening at the local multiplex near where he grew up. So he and a buddy went to protest. Smith even got interviewed by the local TV News station. (That clip is attached at the end of that 2nd video.)

Smith (somewhere) said that no one should be offended by this movie because there is a rubber poop monster right in the middle of the movie. And there is…

Anyway, here’s the trailer for Dogma. I love this movie.

And the video after the break, which is a little more than 10 minutes is REALLY worth your time.
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Black Widow

One of the TV shows I watched during quarantine was Blood Ties, based on the Vicki Nelson series of novels and short stories. It isn’t great, and I like how the series of books ended more than the TV series. (Canadian TV never seems to have the budget that they need.) But in one of the episodes she says “Family reunions are a bitch.” That came to mind when I saw this trailer.

So this is the Final Trailer for Marvel’s Black Widow. The video says May 1st, but the release has been pushed to November, and I have to say that I’m glad; this is one movie I will see on the big screen.

Movies You Haven’t Seen – Buckaroo Bonzai

The full title to this movie is The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai: Across the 8th Dimension, but that is rarely remembered.

You will either love this movie, or hate this movie. Most people hate this movie, I think.

The main running gag of this movie is, that you’ve come in to middle of a long standing series. The way you would have in the 1980s if you picked a random novel that happened to be in a SciFi series, or if you picked up a comic book. There were also the serialized movies from the 50s and before.

I’m not sure this translates to the 21st Century, where sites like Books-in-order tell you where to start, and you can use Netflix or the library to catch up on any of the MCU you might have missed before this summer’s blockbuster is released. But it is played deadpan perfect by this cast.

The cast is Peter Weller (you might know him from the original RoboCop), Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd (Doc Smith from Back to the Future), Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, and a few great character actors like Robert Ito (from the 1970s TV show Quincy) and Vincent Schiavelli (the subway ghost in Ghost).

The trailer probably doesn’t do it justice, and this version I think actually kills one of the better scenes, but the teaser trailer is nonsensical. (Which kind fits, because parts of the movie don’t make sense. “Why is there a watermelon here?”)

If you watch the credits (they’re available on YouTube) you might see where one of the recent Doctor Who characters gets his fashion sense.

After the break, there is another video, It isn’t the greatest quality, and I haven’t seen all of it, or even most of it, but the first 7 or 8 minutes are of Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) giving his opinion of the movie, before opening an interview with John Lithgow and Peter Weller..

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The Babel Fish

The BBC television adaptation of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the best adaptation. It is slightly better than BBC radio version and SOOO much better than that movie from a few years ago.

And the Babel Fish scene is classic.

I put this here mostly for my own reference, because the argument about God’s refusal to prove that he exists has been an issue in a couple of “discussions” lately. And it is just plain fun.

If you haven’t read the book, you should. And I can recommend the BBC TV version.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: Road to Perdition

Actually, I’m not sure how well this movie is known. Most of my friends have never seen it, though it didn’t do too poorly at the box-office. Before every movie was based on a comic book, this movie was based on series of graphic novels by Richard Piers Rayner published by DC’s Paradox Press.

It certainly has an amazing cast.

  • Tom Hanks
  • Jude Law
  • Daniel Craig
  • Paul Newman

and Tyler Hoechlin playing the part of Tom Hanks’ son.

It was lovingly filmed, and the way they recreated The Midwest of the Great Depression, including Chicago, was amazing.

Tom Hanks is Mike Sullivan, an enforcer for the Irish Mob in a nameless Midwestern city. Paul Newman is his surrogate father, and head of that mob. Father and son. Conflict. Betrayal. And Jude Law playing a slightly tilted hitman hired by The Outfit out of Chicago.

The trailer doesn’t do it justice, but most of the scenes on YouTube are spoilers in a big way. I can recommend it without reservation. The Outfit. A father-son journey. Family. And some redemption, though not for all.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: Seven Days In May

There were a number of interesting Cold War movies made, and a lot of drek. I recently highlighted The Day the Earth Stood Still. That is probably one of the best 1950s-era Science Fiction movies, (This is era that gave us Plan 9 from Outer Space, after all) and one of the better Cold War movies.

Seven Days In May is a political thriller based around the possibility of a military coup taking place in the USA. It isn’t perfect, but it has a good cast, and Rod Serling (of The Twilight Zone) wrote the screenplay, and he knew how to keep you on the edge of your seat. Hmmm. A story about removing a sitting President because you don’t like him or his politics. Why did that come to mind?

And the whole film is a reminder that the phrase “It can’t happen here,” is just not true. So here’s the trailer from the 1964 movie. They apparently remade this (sort of) as a TV Movie in 1994 with Forest Whitaker.

Something I Never Noticed Before

So, given that I am losing my mind in quarantine, I am re-watching every old movie in my collection of movies to hold onto my sanity. (the library is closed, which is my usual source for new – to me – movies.) I was watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, (“Even numbered Star Trek movies don’t suck”) and I noticed something I never noticed before.

Pai Mei is the communications officer on the starship USS Saratoga.

For the uninitiated Pai Mei is the Sith Lord of the Kung Fu world. Basically, don’t ever fu*k with this guy. He cannot be beaten. Even a kick in the balls won’t work cos he has none.

According to legend Pai Mei was one of the five elders of Shaolin and also supposedly betrayed the Shaolin Temple leading to it’s burning down by the imperial government. The character has become famous in Kung Fu movies as the unbeatable white eyebrow villain.

If you’ve ever seen Pai Mei, it was likely in the Tarantino film Kill Bill, Vol. 2. (Unless you’re a movie nut like me, and actually know the Shaw Brothers universe!) You can just compare the photos associated with each video… You decide.

Here’s the section of Voyage Home from the Saratoga.

Here’s the introduction of Pai Mei in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

And even though you think Pai Mei was killed in Kill Bill, I wouldn’t count on it.

It’s actually nice that Pai Mei was played by Gordon Liu in Kill Bill, because a younger Gordon Liu fought against Pai Mei in one of those older movies.

‡ As for my sanity, before we all went into quarantine… Some would say it was questionable. (I did climb into small boats and sail out of sight of land.)

Adam Schlesinger – RIP

Because these are the times we live in. Adam Schlesinger: Fountains of Wayne Co-Founder, RIP 😢😷☣️.

Adam Schlesinger, a native of New Jersey who fronted the band Fountains of Wayne, died on Wednesday due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 51.

You might know his work because he wrote the song for the 1997 movie That Thing You Do. That movie was directed by Tom Hanks.

EBL has a musical interlude tribute, and there is more info at the 2nd link as well.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: The original The Day The Earth Stood Still

I’m actually not sure how many of you have and have not seen this film. I am NOT talking about the travesty of a remake, that stared Keanu Reeves from 2008, but the original Cold War version from 1951.

I was reminded of this movie a while back when watching Project Blue Book which includes a bit of the ending in the pilot. I didn’t make it thru the pilot, and I would have to work pretty hard (and violate some social-distancing rules) to see it. Unless it is streaming somewhere like Netflix… And I probably won’t resubscribe to any streaming services right now. And yes I know they’re all free for a month.

Anyway, I doubt most of you have seen it, if only because movies from the 1950s tend to move a bit slowly by modern standards. And while there is a “giant” robot (Gort isn’t that big, really) who destroys a few things, there aren’t any wonderful special effects, by today’s standard anyway. (All the reliance on effects is one of the many things that made the 2008 remake so awful.)

Here’s a review. Trailers from that era tend to be nonsense. As a review, it contains spoilers. I think you would still enjoy the film. And it is only about 5 minutes.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: Tank Girl

Guys universally hate Tank Girl. I think it mostly stems from the “feeling inadequate?” scene that is referenced in the trailer. But maybe not. Women are split on the film in my experience. But hey, you’ve got time on your hands…

Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T and Malcolm McDowell. All in a post apocalyptic landscape.

Here’s the official trailer for Tank Girl, though I’m not sure that it does justice to the film. It does point up some of the insanity. I haven’t actually watched this movie in a VERY long time, but I tripped over a Lori Petty video that reminded me…

The soundtrack might be better than the film, but I still smile just thinking about it. It is NOT great cinema, not by a long way. Maybe you should watch it on your computer while doing something else. You can always rewind.

Since A Lot of Us Have the Time…

We Are the Mighty has some suggestions for viewing. The 9 best Vietnam War movies.

The list includes some good movies, like The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, and Good Morning, Vietnam and also a few that I don’t think are so good, like First Blood. But we have time to watch.

Francis Ford Coppola set out to make a Vietnam War epic based on Joseph Conrad’s anti-colonialist novella The Heart of Darkness. It would turn out to be one of the most arduous productions in the history of cinema, taking over three years to complete and nearly destroying Coppola’s health and career in the process.

Here’s the trailer for Apocalypse Now.